It seems that we are entering into a Renaissance here in America when it comes to board games. I don't say that just because I have been playing more board games lately, I say it because the board game community, most notably Board Game Geek, has been commenting on the number of new people that have joined the hobby over the last year.
And it's not just individuals getting involved, local board game clubs and stores have been reported to have gaining as much as twice as many members in just a year. Also there has been a huge influx of new games being produced over the last couple of years.
Now this is a good thing. See, I have always liked board games, from my grandpa's game of King Oil to my longtime favorite Stock Market Game I have liked to play board games. Unfortunately for me, (and well for anybody else in earshot at toy isle in stores) all the stores that I went to never sold any good games. Walsmart and Target seems to love sell 20 different kinds of trivia games, and the Milton Bradley line, but past the occasional good party game, these mainstream stores do not sell any good board games.
I just figured that nobody made good games. That is until I found out about Board Game Geek.
BGG is an online database of board games. The best feature is that the community rates and ranks all of the games. And there are alot of games. Unfortunately, most of the highly rated games are not ones that you can find at your local superstore.
Well, I did not really realize how good Board Game Geek was at first. The day I found it I looked through the top 50 or so games and went merrily along my way surfing the internet. It was after a chance encounter with a game, Power Grid, that I learned that there is a hoard of good games in the world, and that Board Game Geek can help me sort through them.
Power Grid is ranked 3 on BGG. Since it was so highly ranked I was able to remember it in case of emergency. When I was in Hobby Town in Colorado I found a copy for a decent price (like $35, this constitutes an emergency). I figured that since it was rated as one of the best games ever that I would give it a whirl.
Power Grid is rated that high for a reason. The complexity and yet the simpleness was amazing. Not only that, the game was based almost completely on skill, no dice needed, yet it wasn't annoying or high stress like other "no luck" games ...I'm talking to you chess. After playing Power Grid I knew that awesome board games were just waiting for me to play them. And played them I have.
I now own six or seven new highly ranked awesome games, with many more on my list of games that I want to buy. One of my latest editions is Vegas Showdown, which is the game we are playing above. So far everyone like playing it. Actually, since I have been using BGG to find new games all of the games that I have got everyone likes. Coincidence?
So now I have some advice to give. First, if you are interested in playing a better breed of board games (and to find out that dice do not have to be used in games) I suggest picking up a copy of Carcassonne (for $19 online), it is a great simple and very fun game that is unlike any game that you have probably ever played. Beyond that I would check out Board Game Geek to see what games look fun to you and what is rated high. I would have to suggest though to pick up Vegas Showdown (where you make a casino) and Nexus Ops (like Risk but better) while you can because they are going out of print. You can get them both for $22 right now on Amazon. They both are very fun, definitely worth $11 apiece.